Williams Lake has a new doctor from South Africa, dividing her time between the Atwood Clinic and the Cariboo Memorial Hospital operating room.
Dr. Mariska Neuhoff is a physician and an anesthesiologist and has hit the ground running since her first day of work on March 1 at the clinic.
“I am already fully booked until the end of March,” she said. “I’m taking over the previous patients of physicians who had to leave. There are many patients in need so I’m grateful to be able assist them.”
Her husband, Jacques Neuhoff, is also a physician and hopes to work in Williams Lake once he completes one more exam. He is also trained in anesthesia.
The Neuhoffs moved from South Africa to Canada in September 2020 with their children Wernu, 5, and Karli, 3.
After quarantining for two weeks in Vancouver, they came to Williams Lake to bring some things and then returned to Vancouver where she completed an orientation program.
“We came to Williams Lake at the end of October and I worked in 100 Mile House for the first three months, driving back and forth.”
She has a sister who has lived in Vancouver for more than 10 years who is also a doctor, and Neuhoff said their parents will be moving to Williams Lake from South Africa at the end of March as well because the two daughters are their only children.
“Mom and dad said there’s nothing really keeping them in South Africa so they started the process of the grandparents visa and my sister and her husband sponsored them.”
Wernu and Karli have enjoyed their first ‘winter wonderland’ and with ‘oma’ and ‘opa’ set to arrive in a few weeks, they are on a holiday that’s never ending.
“They are like sponges actually and really adapting. The adjustment with them was not bad.”
As living with snow is a whole new experience, the Neuhoffs are renting for the first year to get a sense of what the seasons are like before they purchase a home.
A self-described, ‘small town girl,’ she grew up in the East Rand and moved to bigger cities for university and medical school, but returned to a small town to do her internship and community service.
“That’s why Williams Lake is a good fit,” she added.
She enjoys music, played field hockey as a kid, and fished with her dad.
“I’m really looking forward to lots of fishing again,” she said. “Both my husband and I are quite active, so we like running, going on walks and hikes and cycling so we’re glad it’s becoming warmer.”
Joanne Meyrick, program manager with the Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice, said all of the new patients Neuhoff is taking on are coming from the Centralized Patient Attachment list for anyone looking for a family doctor or nurse practitioner.
Since launching the list in October, 500 patients in Williams Lake have been assigned.
Meyrick encouraged any patients without a primary care provider to sign up for the list by filling out a questionnaire online at www.caribooattachment.ca or call the patient services co-ordinator at 250-296-0070.
“We are all working hard in the medical community to bring providers to the region,” she said.